Cave Painting, Papua New Guinea Photograph by Amy Toensing, National Geographic For generations people in the region have marked cave walls with stenciled handprints. These prints were made with clay-based paint, but in other caves, crimson stains tell the story of a bloody initiation ritual for young men.
Lichen's Liquid Acid harvested from a lichen plant is seen in polarized light at ten-power magnification. This lichen species, Evernia divaricata, lives on slow-growing, coniferous trees throughout Europe, North America, and central Asia, according to the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway. The species grows bowl-shaped fruiting bodies lined with bright-yellow spores. The acid shown above is found throughout the lichen, and the rectangular crystals it forms are a "typical property" of the acid, according to a forum post by the photographer, Ralf Wagner, of Düsseldorf, Germany. Published October 13, 2010
Four O'Clock Stigma Image courtesy Robert Markus, Nikon Small World Glowing balls of pollen stick to the stigma of a four o'clock flower in this multiple-exposure composite image by Robert Markus of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The picture was made with fluorescent light, which caused the pollen to light up blue. (Related: glowing animals.) Also known as marvel of Peru flowers, four o' clock flowers (Mirabilis jalapa) are used to make food coloring.
Wasp Eye Image courtesy Charles Krebs, Nikon Small World If you were an insect larva, this view would be extremely frightening. The compound eye of an inchneumon wasp, seen at 40-power magnification, looms large in this winning picture by Charles Krebs of Issaquah, Washington. Inchneumon wasps are, by and large, parasitic. Most wasps in the family seek out the larvae of other insects, such as flies or beetles, and inject them with eggs. The eggs hatch inside the bodies of their hosts, and as the young wasps eat and eat, their host organisms slowly die. Published October 13, 2010
Soap Film Image courtesy Gerd Guenther, Nikon Small World Rub-a-dub-dub, 16 bubbles on a microscope slide: These psychedelic orbs are tiny circles of soap film, photographed with simple lighting and 150-power magnification. Many microphotography pictures use heavy-duty polarization or fluorescence to achieve a unique look, but Gerd Guenther, of Düsseldorf, Germany, captured this picture with "bright field" lighting: the straightforward, light-from-beneath method familiar from high school microscopes. Published October 13, 2010
Rat Retina Image courtesy Cameron Johnson, Nikon Small World Ropy red strands glow in a tiny slice of a Wistar rat's retina, as seen under hundred-power magnification in a prizewinning picture created by Cameron Johnson of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The Wistar is a particular strain of albino rat used widely for research. Descended from one brood developed in 1906, most of the "lab rats" used today are Wistars, according to the Wistar Institute. Published October 13, 2010
Sulfurous Mixture Image courtesy John Hart, Nikon Small World It's a good thing we don't yet have Smell-o-Vision: A sulfur compound has the starring role in this winning picture from the 2010 Small World Microphotography Competition, whose top images were announced Wednesday. To make the image, John Hart of the University of Colorado, Boulder, melted together sulfur (picture) and acetanilide, a toxic substance once used as an antiseptic. The mixture then formed crystals, seen here magnified ten times under specially polarized light. Sponsored by Nikon, the annual contest showcases "the beauty and complexity of life as seen through the light microscope."
Dragonfly Picture – Animal Wallpaper - National Geographic Photo of the Day
Dragonfly, Indonesia Photograph by Shikhei Goh This Month in Photo of the Day: 2011 National Geographic Photo Contest Images Arrows of rain seem to pelt a dragonfly in Indonesia's Riau Islands. To capture the photo, photographer Shikhei Goh took advantage of “superb lighting” and a friend spraying water on the dragonfly to simulate rain. Editors’ Note, January 12, 2012: This caption has been edited to accurately reflect how Goh took the picture. The original caption said that Goh had taken the picture in a sudden rainstorm, which he has done in previous occasions—but not for this photograph.
Cenotes, Chichén-Itzá, Mexico Photograph by Jack Paulus, My Shot Caves can be very hard to shoot. Challenges include locating the spot with the most interesting elements and the need to return to a certain place over and over. In this shot, the combination of the warmly lit stalagtites and stalagmites, the intense turquoise of the water, and the curious stone "jetty" create a dynamic and intriguing setting. (You don’t always have to bring along flashes, as caves open to the public are often lit to highlight the most dramatic rock formations.) As with most successful photographs, there’s a single element that makes this one captivating: the shaft of light coming down from the roof of the cave. Sometimes you have to go back again and again to capture that remarkable detail that makes the shot sing. It’s the light beam and the circle of light on the water that gives this image an almost religious quality.—Catherine Karnow